Although colonists, both North and South, were bound together by a common language and a common allegiance to Mother England, they established different patterns of settlement, different economies, different political systems, and even different sets of values – defining distinctive regional characteristics that would persist for generations.
THE PROTESTANT REFORMATION PRODUCES PURITANISM German friar Martin Luther shaped the destiny of a yet unknown nation when he denounced the authority of priests and popes and he declared that the Bible alone was the source of God’s word. This ignited a fire of religious reform, the “Protestant Reformation,” across Europe.
The reforming flame burned especially bright in John Calvin of Geneva. This somber & religious leader elaborated Martin Luther’s ideas in ways that profoundly affected the thought of many future Americans. Explain John Calvin’s rationale for his doctrine. Who were the “elect?” Could good works save those pre-destined for eternal torment? Could the “elect” go on immoral binges, according to Calvin? What was the process of conversion? How did economic conditions contribute to the Separatist movement? Explain the controversy between Puritans and the Church of England over “visible saints?” Why did King James I harass the Separatists into leaving?
THE PILGRIMS END THEIR PILGRIMMAGE at PLYMOUTH The most famous congregation of Separatists, fleeing royal wrath, departed for Holland in 1608. During the ensuing 12 years of toil & poverty, they were increasingly distressed by the “Dutchification” of their children. They longed to find a haven where they would live and die as English men and women – and as purified Protestants. America was the logical refuge.
A group of Separatists in Holland secured rights to settle in Virginia. But their crowded Mayflower , sixty-five days at sea, missed its destination and arrived off the coast of New England in 1620. They chose for their settlement site the shore of inhospitable Plymouth Bay.
Before disembarking, the Pilgrim leaders drew up and signed the brief Mayflower Compact , a simple agreement to form a crude govt. and to submit to the will of the majority under rules agreed upon.
In time the frail colony found sound economic legs in fur, fish, and lumber. Thus, Plymouth proved that the English could maintain themselves in this uninviting region.
And, the group was blessed with outstanding leaders, including William Bradford. What was his biggest fear?
The little colony of Plymouth was never important economically or numerically. It merged with its giant neighbor, the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1691, but the tiny settlement was big spiritually.
THE BAY COLONY BIBLE COMMONWEALTH Moderate Puritans, not as radical as Separatists, sought to reform the Church of England from within. They were enjoying modest support, so the king sanctioned persecution. He perceived a greater threat from these moderates. These moderates felt that they had a covenant with God, an agreement to build a holy society that would be a model for humankind. In 1629 an energetic group of non-Separatist Puritans, fearing for their faith and for England’s future, secured a royal charter to the Massachusetts Bay Company. Boston would become its hub.
BUILDING the BAY COLONY Who were the “freemen?” 2/5 enjoyed the privilege to vote – better than England. Gov. John Winthrop thought democracy was the “meanest and worst” of all forms of govt. Describe the “Protestant Ethic.”
TROUBLE in the BIBLE COMMONWEALTH Anne Hutchinson presented a strong challenge to Puritan orthodoxy. What was antinomianism? How did she justify her beliefs?
Even more threatening was personable and popular Roger Williams. How was he threatening Puritan ideals?
THE RHODE ISLAND “SEWER” Aided by friendly Indians, Roger Williams fled to the Rhode Island area in 1636. He established complete freedom of religion, even for Catholics and Jews. He demanded no oaths regarding religious beliefs, no compulsory attendance at worship, and no taxes to support a state church. William’s endorsement of religious tolerance made Rhode Island more liberal than any of the other English settlements in the New World. Other outcasts joining Williams enjoyed simple manhood suffrage and were free of the burdens of special privileges. The Puritan clergy in Boston referred to Rhode Island as “that sewer,” in which the “Lord’s debris” had collected and rotted.
NEW ENGLAND SPREADS OUT The spread of English settlements inevitably led to clashes with the Indians, who were particularly weak in New England. In 1620, an epidemic, probably triggered by contact with English fishermen, killed more than ¾ of the coastal tribes.
In no position to resist the English encroachments, the Wampanoag Indians at first befriended the settlers. The chieftain, Massasoit , signed a treaty with the Pilgrims in 1621 and helped them celebrate their first Thanksgiving. As more English settlers arrived & pushed inland, confrontations between Indians and whites ruptured these peaceful relations. Hostilities exploded in 1637 between the English settlers and the Pequot tribe. The English besieged and proceeded to slaughter the tribe.
The Indians only hope for resisting English expansion lay in intertribal unity – a pan-Indian alliance against the English. Massasoit’s son, Metacom, called King Philip by the English, forged an alliance and mounted a series of coordinated attacks on English villages throughout New England. Frontier settlements were hit especially hard. The English defeated Metacom in 1676 – the war inflicted a lasting defeat on New England’s Indians, and they posed only sporadic threats to future New England colonists.
SEEDS of COLONIAL UNITY and INDEPENDENCE A path-breaking experiment in union was launched in 1643, when four colonies banded together to form the New England Confederation. What was the primary purpose of the confederation? Purely inter-colonial problems also came within the jurisdiction of the confederation. Each member wielded two votes. The confederation was essentially an exclusive Puritan club ( members? )
Back in England the king paid little attention to the American colonies during the early years. The era of benign neglect was, in part, the result of civil wars embroiling England in the 1640’s. When Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660, Puritan hopes of purifying the old English church withered. Charles II was determined to take an active, aggressive hand in the management of the colonies. Upstart Massachusetts was at the top of his “hit list.”
ANDROS PROMOTES the FIRST AMERICAN REVOLUTION Massachusetts suffered a humiliation in 1686, when the Dominion of New England was created by royal decree. Unlike the homegrown New England Confederation, it was imposed by London. The purpose of the dominion was to bolster colonial defense and to promote urgently needed efficiency in the administration of the English Navigation Laws. American colonists chafed under these laws. Autocratic Sir Edmund Andros headed the new dominion. He was able, but tactless. What moves did he make that infuriated the colonists?
In 1688-1689 the Glorious Revolution in England deposed the despotic and unpopular Catholic James II and enthroned Protestant William III.
When news of the Glorious Revolution reached America, the Dominion of New England collapsed and Andros became a wanted man. What was his fate? The Glorious Revolution inspired the colonists to challenge the English crown. The new monarch relaxed the royal grip on colonial trade, inaugurating a period of “salutary neglect” that would come back to haunt the crown. The crown further strained relations with the colonies by appointing political hacks to official positions, fostering resentment amongst colonists.
OLD NETHERLANDERS at NEW NETHERLAND Protestant England assisted the Netherlands in their successful rebellion against Catholic Spain. As the Dutch became a world power, they challenged the English for mastery of the seas. The Dutch East India Co. & the Dutch West India Co. provided the financial resources for empire building. In 1623-24 New Netherland was established in the Hudson River area (fur trade). They bought Manhattan Island from the Indians and New Amsterdam (New York City) became the commercial center. Freedoms were greatly restricted – dissenters were punished harshly. Peter Stuyvesant was the harsh, despotic leader of New Netherland. New Englanders wanted to push-out the Dutch, but they could not unify. The Swedes attempted to move-in, but they were defeated and absorbed by the English in 1664 (renamed New York). Identify the cultural traits that the Dutch left behind.
PENN’S HOLY EXPERIMENT in PENNSYLVANIA Who were the Quakers? And why were they offensive to English authorities? William Penn became a Quaker leader. How did he secure a land grant from the king?